Garnet Health, the private ambulance service and Covid response vendor, will be closing in two weeks

A relative newcomer to Vermont’s emergency health services is closing in after playing an important role in providing testing and vaccination services during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Garnet Transport Medicine LLC, which operates under the Garnet Health name, announced Tuesday that it will end all operations on January 31, the same day the Vermont Department of Health will shut down vaccination clinics statewide.

“As state and federally supported COVID-19 services decline, Garnet is left without sufficient revenue to maintain operations and must make decisions to prevent a catastrophic collapse,” said Ryan Ferris, the company’s president and CEO. written agreement. The company declined to answer further questions for this article.

The private, for-profit company with an office in Williston and Transport Bay opened in Essex Junction in 2019, providing scheduled ambulance transport between hospitals and long-term care centers or, when required, private homes and medical offices.

Garnet Health notified the Vermont Department of Labor on January 12 that it would lay off 76 employees, according to Deputy Labor Commissioner Dustin Degree. He said the department will assist employees in arranging unemployment benefits and provide assistance in finding a new job.

When the pandemic shut down facility relocations to a minimum in early 2020, Garnet Health joined mostly municipal and nonprofit emergency medical providers and hospitals in Covid-19 testing sites. The company added vaccination services for Covid-19 after vaccines became available in 2021.

Early in the pandemic, Garnet Health was one of the few companies in the state to offer same-day Covid-19 testing, and then a travel requirement. By October 2020, the company has employed an on-site test site at Burlington International Airport for travelers and non-flyers alike. By December 2020, Garnet was one of 10 emergency services organizations contracted with the state to offer walk-in clinics.

The company hosted busy testing and vaccine clinics in Burlington, South Burlington, Essex and Middlebury, among other locations. Seven Days reported that the company has also provided testing at prisons for the State Corrections Department and at summer camps.

In the statement, Ferris blamed the company’s financial difficulties on low reimbursement rates for emergency medical services from insurers and the “high cost of operating a professional medical practice.”

He said the company’s leadership pursued a variety of options to keep the business open, including state and federal Covid-19 stabilization grants and efforts to market the company for sale, without success. The statement said the company’s leadership would re-evaluate its options for reopening after the layoffs “with a more limited offer of medical services going forward.”

Will Moran, chief of emergency medical services for the Vermont Department of Health, said the closure will not result in a gap in services. He said that many ambulance and emergency service providers can step in to provide transportation services. According to the department, more than 180 ambulances and first responder agencies are licensed to operate in Vermont.

But Moran said the company’s end will be felt for other reasons.

“Garnet was a valuable ambulance service and provided high quality care and ambulance transportation to Vermonters,” said Moran. Garnet also answered the call during the Covid-19 pandemic and provided much needed vaccination and testing services. They will be lost.”

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